Since 1915, the best short stories published in North America have been collected in an annual anthology aptly titled The Best American Short Stories (Houghton Miffler Harcourt, $15).
Author Heidi Pitlor has been editing the series since 2007. She scours magazines and literary journals—some as familiar as The New Yorker, others more obscure—rounding up what she thinks are the 100 best stories published in a given year. Then it’s up to the guest editor—this time it’s Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan—to narrow down the list to 20. It’s a subjective process; Egan readily admits this in her introduction. But if you’re a fan of the genre, you’re bound to love at least a few, if not all, of this year’s stories.
Egan selected shorts “for their power to make me lose my bearings.” Her picks include work from big names such as Joyce Carol Oates, T.C. Boyle, Ann Beattie and Joshua Ferris. But the newbies also shine. Highlights include Nicole Cullen, a young up-and-comer from Idaho whose prose is steeped in place, and Craig Davidson, a Canadian who writes characters as physically broken as they are emotionally so.